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Sen. Leahy's request for White House detainee docs denied

Raw Story
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A key Democratic U.S. senator reveals that the government turned down his request for documents pertaining to the White House's treatment of detainees, Congressional Quarterly is reporting.

"The Justice Department has rebuffed a Senate request for documents related to the Bush administration's policy on the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists, particularly those held by the CIA," writes Keith Perine for CQ.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) "requested the documents from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on Nov. 16, after the CIA acknowledged the existence of two of them in the course of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union," Perine reports.

Leahy released a statement on Tuesday expressing his dissatisfaction with the decision by the Justice Department. It reads, in part:

It is disappointing that the Department of Justice and the White House have squandered another opportunity to work cooperatively with Congress. The Department's decision to brush off my request for information about the Administration's troubling interrogation policies is not the constructive step toward bipartisanship that I had hoped for, given President Bush’s promise to work with us.

I requested two documents concerning CIA interrogation methods, which the Administration recently acknowledged in a lawsuit, and other relevant information. The Administration's refusal to provide any of this information other than forwarding a couple of public documents suggests that the President's offer to work with us may have been only political lip service.
Leahy indicated in the statement, available in full here, that he plans to pursue the matter further.

Excerpts from the subscription-only CQ article follow...

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The CIA has admitted the existence of a directive by President Bush that either authorized the agency to establish prisons for terrorism suspects or outlined permissible interrogation practices, or both, as well as a Justice Department memorandum to the CIA on interrogation methods.

The CIA previously refused to confirm or deny the existence of such records. But the agency changed its stance after the White House publicly acknowledged in September the existence of the CIA program. The agency continues to withhold the two documents on national security and privilege grounds.

In a Dec. 22 reply to Leahy, acting Assistant Attorney General James H. Clinger said the Justice Department would not give Leahy the documents, nor other records he sought related to interrogation practices and detainee abuse.

"Al Qaeda seeks information on our interrogation techniques — their methods and their limits — and trains its operatives to resist them," Clinger wrote. "We must avoid assisting their effort."

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